Previewing the U.S. Open Junior Championships
by Colette Lewis
, 3 September 2010
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Leading up to this year's U.S. Open there has been plenty of discussion about the "wide-open" nature of the women's draw. But in the world of junior tennis, that description can be applied to nearly every slam.
The juniors are about to take to the courts in New York
This year's U.S. Open junior championships will feature all 10 of the top-ranked boys in the ITF juniors, and seven of the girls in the Top 10, which only serves to make the successors to Australia's Bernard Tomic
and Great Britain's Heather Watson
that much more difficult to predict.
If there were a third Pliskova sister, she might top the list of favorites for the girls title, as 18-year-old twins Karolina and Kristyna have captured the Australian and Wimbledon girls championships this year. Karolina beat Great Britain's Laura Robson in Melbourne to claim the Czech family's first slam title, and Kristyna earned the second with a win over Japan's Sachie Ishizu at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
But despite those credentials, neither will be seeded at the top of the girls draw. That honor will belong to 16-year-old Daria Gavrilova of Russia, who ascended to the No. 1 spot in the ITF junior world rankings by taking the gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore last month. The 2009 Eddie Herr champion reached the semifinals last year in New York, and, with her crafty and nuanced game, is a good bet to get at least that far this year.
Robson, also a semifinalist last year in New York, again had an impressive run in women's qualifying last week at Flushing Meadows. But, as in 2009, the 16-year-old from London lost in the third set of the final round. This year her WTA ranking of 229 will assure her of a seed in the junior competition, which she did not have at last year's Open.
Robson is not the only teen in the field with extensive experience on the professional circuit. Sloane Stephens of the United States is ranked inside the Top 300 on the WTA Tour, and has had junior success as well, reaching the quarterfinals in singles at the Roland Garros and Wimbledon junior championships, while winning both doubles titles with Hungary's Timea Babos.
Spain's Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, a quarterfinalist at the Roland Garros juniors this year, has a WTA ranking of 290, and Babos, who will be seeded second due to her ITF ranking, is at 323.
Also in the mix is French Open girls champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
In addition to Stephens, there are a baker's dozen of U.S. girls taking aim on the title. Beatrice Capra
, a quarterfinalist at last year's Junior Open, has already won two main draw matches in this year's U.S. Open women's draw, beating Croatia's Karolina Sprem
on Tuesday and No. 18 seed Aravan Rezai
of France on Thursday. If Capra elects to remain in the junior draw, her recent results obviously make her one of the favorites.
Lauren Davis, who reached the quarterfinals last year as an unseeded wild card, has built her ITF junior ranking from virtually nothing to Top 20 in just over a year. Krista Hardebeck, who won a round in women's qualifying this year, will not be seeded, but as the Carson and Easter Bowl champion and third place finisher in the USTA 18s Nationals, she has enjoyed great success on hard courts this year. Ester Goldfeld and Grace Min, who received entry based on their ITF rankings, will be joined by wild cards Victoria Duval, Sachia Vickery, Madison Keys, Ellen Tsay, Jessica Pegula, USTA 16s National champion Kyle McPhillips, USTA 18s Clay Court champion Caroline Price and USTA National 18s finalist Nicole Gibbs.